Release Date: TBD
Director: Michael S. Ojeda
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 7/10
“Vengeance is a dish best served cold.” “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Believe it or not when all is said and done these three quotes pretty much sum up Michael S. Ojeda’s Savaged; an entertaining saga of brutal, bloody vengeance. We have seen numerous films about people exacting revenge against those that have wronged them. I Spit on Your Grave, Oldboy, Kill Bill and Death Wish certainly rank as some of the most memorable tales of vengeance cinema has to offer. Savaged serves up a tale of vengeance that goes where you least expect and underneath all the blood and guts it actually has heart.
After the passing of her father, Zoe, a beautiful deaf mute, decides to join her fiancée in New Mexico. She leaves Los Angeles all alone but keeps in touch with her love via text. About halfway through her drive she has a shocking encounter with some local rednecks where she witnesses them kill a pair of Native Americans. She is kidnapped, raped, tortured and left for dead. Found by an elderly medicine man who attempts to revive her she becomes possessed by the spirit of a vengeful warrior who seeks to annihilate the ones who have wronged his people. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well that’s just the tip of the tee-pee and we’ll leave it at that.
Amanda Adrienne stars as Zoe. She’s essentially a zombie-warrior who is about as good at kicking ass as The Bride or the Terminatrix. She is great as the embodiment of the vengeful spirit but she really shines when Zoe comes to and realizes her situation. Her sadness, confusion and anger truly make her sympathetic even beyond her disability. In the midst of all the mayhem there are actual tender moments between Zoe and her fiancée Dane, played by Marc Anthony Samuel, who has come looking for her. This provided the film with unexpected heart and really fueled the desire to see the rednecks pay. Ronnie Gene Blevins and Tom Ardevany appear as the two main rednecks who have raised the ire of the Indian chief. Blevins is menacing and evil as Jed. Ardevany is imposing as West. West is a particularly interesting character as he seems to be the only one amongst the rednecks who kind of has an idea of what they’re facing. It was very cool to see a villain actually get freaked out by something.
Ojeda has created a melting pot of genres that in other hands could have easily fallen apart or had place emphasis on things that distract from the heart of the story. It is a very interesting dynamic because as a viewer you want to see our heroine get justice but she is truly suffering while she does so and she has no control over it. It’s rather sad, really. The fact that he interjects the film with a love story provides some unexpected drama. For sure this could have easily turned out cheesy but Ojeda handles it with aplomb and doesn’t allow it to fall into melodrama.
Ojeda milks his budget for all its worth and put emphasis on where it needed to be. There are some visual effects that leave much to be desired but the amount of good will the film generates will likely encourage you to overlook such things. The fight on a pick up truck speeding down a desert highway is one sequence that more than makes up for the lack of top notch visual effects. However, the make up effects are top notch and feature some moments that are sure to make audiences squirm.
Savaged proves to be an entertaining film from start to finish. At first it looks like we’re going to see another I Spit on Your Grave but it takes a welcome but unexpected turn for the better. While it may not be amongst the best of the revenge films it certainly is a memorable one in its own special way. Great make up effects, solid acting, some good stunt work and a tender love story make this a genre cocktail that is sure to please.